It was always in my plan to settle down in a country where opportunities are bigger and have a good standard in terms of living. If you are like me that don’t have relatives abroad and independent with decisions and money, you are most likely will find it hard to work abroad especially to first world countries. Agencies that require a big amount of money and certain skills and experiences needed will take you a lot of years to accomplish. So thankfully an Au pair program exists with no to less amount of money required. I literally didn’t spend any cent traveling to Europe.
For those of you who don’t know what Au pair is. Au pair program is a cultural exchange program for unmarried young adult ages 18-30 years who has no children and travels to a foreign country for a definite period of time to live with a host family. An Au pair receives free board and lodging, food, a language course program and a monthly allowance in exchange for a childcare and lighthouse work with no more than 30 working hours per week.
More about Au pair Program here.
So I did a lot of research about the job and register myself to an online agency (www.greataupair.com) to search for a host family. There is a subscription fee for you to access contact information of the host families if you are really eager, but from my experience within just a month, two Norwegian families are already contacting me without a subscription. We went on interviews and weigh down which family matches my needs more. And within just a few weeks I got my contract and this is it! I am flying to Norway!
I was in mixed emotions at that time, excitement and just full of joy because everything is new and I knew I will learn something different! Every Au pair experience is different, some fully cherish it and others are really horrible. And mine is one of those that isn’t easy. My first Host family requires a lot of traveling, I did enjoy this a lot! But time passes by and I couldn’t really have the fullest opportunity to study Norwegian because of moving so often. I decided to change host family, where I am stable and could focus on Norwegian classes, but unfortunately, we have differences that lead me to decide to find another host for the third time. Third time’s a charm as they say and this is true in my Au pair journey. I’m not going to elaborate every detail about my host families but it is really important to state your needs and really look up if the two sides expectations are matched.
If you are used to living independently, this is going to be really hard. There will be rules at home that of course, you will never have a say but to follow. In a contract, it’s clear that an Au pair has a freedom whatever they want to do after the said working hours, but it’s really not the case. You are expected to be flexible, available anytime and any day in their convenience.
You cannot really judge your first interview with a family until you arrived. It can be a welcoming and understanding hosts but it can turn out bad when you started. There’s always going to be a risk, and this is one of them.
You are literally living with your boss. There are a lot of times where I wish I was living out of where I work and remove myself from my job and really focus on other things in my life, but you can’t. You might just work 5 hours a day 5 times a week, but in many instances, you have to expect that you might need to work longer. During my off days, I make sure that I am out of the house and spend weekends at friends to keep my sanity.
Like what I have said earlier, I didn’t spend any cent of money to process my travel in Norway. And this is a huge part. If you are someone who’s a little bit lost and just wants to be away and start something new, this is the number one choice!
You will be enrolled at a school to study another language for free which I find really cool! And meet different kinds of people along the way from all over the world. You will learn different culture and broaden your knowledge.
You will practice how to be a parent. If you are seeing yourself as a parent in the future this is a good hand on experience to learn the ABC’s of taking care of little human beings. I enjoyed this a lot. There are a lot of things that I would still want to carry when I have my own children, and there are things that I won’t do as well.
Working light housework in a country where the standard of living is high is literally light and easy. Every cleaning chores here is automated by a machine. So there is really no complicated work when it comes to home cleaning.
You will have a lot of spare time, so ready yourself for a solitude time, learn something interesting, visit museums, parks, travel, meet new people and make a new habit. There is plenty of time to do that will make your life balanced.
Being an Au pair is a major part of my life. This was the hardest and toughest period of my life. Living in a family that you just met can be really awkward and literally out of your comfort zone. Your surroundings are new to you, the people, the food, the culture, the language. It’s a constant learning state, where you will discover about yourself too because you are dealing closely with a family. But every down I had as an Au pair really served me, now I have my Norwegian language skills and a licensed Norwegian health worker, if it weren’t for these goals, I have had for sure gave up as an Au pair. But because of this, my career and overall life changed drastically into something great. No matter how unhappy I was during those 2 years, I have learned to focus on why am I doing it in the first place. I am in full gratitude for this experience, it became my bridge to reach into my dreams.
If one will ask me if I recommend anyone to be an Au pair, I would say yes and go for it. After all, good or bad experience, one will learn something new for sure. And if I will be asked if I could consider being an Au pair again, my answer will be no, I don’t want to be an Au pair again but I never regret that once I was.